It’s common for organizations to wrestle with how to ask their board members for capital campaign gifts. It can be a dicey subject!
Too often people solicit their board members at a board meeting by handing out pledge forms for them to fill out. That’s a terrible way to handle the process of soliciting board members for your campaign.
So the question becomes this:
What can you do to set up the process of soliciting your board for campaign gifts to make it more comfortable and more successful?
Six Tips for Asking Board Members for Capital Campaign Gifts
Here are six excellent tips you should try for smooth and successful board solicitation.
1. Talk about financial responsibilities of being a board member BEFORE people join your board.
Be clear and specific about what is expected of board members — including their giving. The kiss of death is telling board members that they don’t really have to make a financial commitment to your organization.
2. Organize a solicitation team (likely the board chair and campaign chair) to speak with each board member individually about their commitment.
It’s a mistake to leave it up to your board members to figure out when and how much they should give to your campaign. Instead of simply passing out pledge forms in the board packet and hoping that board members will fill them out, schedule one-on-one meetings with each board member.
3. Ask board members to make a gift that is substantial and meaningful for them.
For the duration of the campaign (generally 3 years), ask that board members make the largest gift possible (for them) to your organization. It should be larger than any other charitable gift they are making (for the duration of the campaign).
4. Hold board members accountable.
If a board member is not making a financial commitment every year and will not contribute significantly to your campaign, you should discuss the possibility that they might serve the organization in other ways, but not remain on the board. Board members must lead by example.
5. Make a big deal of the generosity of your board members.
Add a specific category for board giving in your campaign goal. Set a board giving goal and take care to make sure every board member knows it. Then celebrate in a big way when the board has reached their giving goal.
6. Report on progress by email and at board meetings and celebrate success.
Board members need to be reminded how they are doing, individually and as a group, and celebrate success. Set goals and milestones (100% participation, 50% toward goal, etc.) and celebrate as a group when they are achieved. Celebrating early and often will help the momentum of the campaign.
Solicit Your Board Members Early and Often
Your board members need to be solicited early on in the campaign, and then throughout. Although individual board members may not make the largest gifts to your campaign, they do need to lead by example. This means that many of them step up early and generously to support the campaign.
Board members contribute 20-50% of your campaign goal
As a group, your board members should contribute a significant portion of your campaign goal. That could be anywhere from 20-50% of the total campaign goal, depending on the organization.
The key to success is to talk to your board as a whole about the campaign, and then solicit each board member individually (along with their spouse or significant other, when appropriate).
If you’ve had success soliciting your board for a campaign, we’d love to hear about it in the comments. Please share below.